Bird out for year.

Greg Bird, who performed well in 46 games as the Yankees’ first baseman after Mark Teixeira went down with a broken leg in 2015, will miss all of the 2016 season due to shoulder surgery.

Bird was ticketed for AAA this year, but was expected to be an “understudy” in case Teix got injured this year. As of now Dustin Ackley will be backing up Teixeira at 1B.

Bird hit .261-11-31 in those 46 games, OPS+ 138. A great beginning to a career that hopefully this injury won’t derail.

Ex-Yankee Dineen dead at 63

You have to be a really good Yankees’ fan to remember Kerry Dineen. He was one of those players who had a “cup of tea” in the majors. I remember Dineen, though.

In 1975, while playing at Shea while Yankee Stadium was being renovated, the Yankees’ outfielders had trouble with Shea’s outfield, and eventually Roy White, Bobby Bonds and Elliott Maddox all came up with knee injuries. Maddox missed about 100 games that season and never was the same after hitting .303 and (according to WAR, Wins Above Replacement) being the Yanks best player in 1974.

On top of those injuries, Lou Piniella had an inner ear infection which affected his balance and he wound up hitting .196 that season. He missed about half the year.

Things were so bad that I remember a game in which Ed Herrmann was catching, and the corner outfielders were Thurman Munson and Rick Dempsey.

Between them, in CF, was a slight rookie OF named Kerry Dineen. Dineen had no power, and in seven games for the Yanks in 1975, went 8 for 22 with a double and an RBI.

The next season he played in four games for the Yanks, going 2 for 7, both singles, with an RBI. He was out of the majors in 1977 and resurfaced with the 1978 Phillies, for whom he went 2 for 8, 1 double, in five games.

For his MLB career, he played in just 16 games, going 12 for 37 (.324) with 2 doubles and 2 RBI.

Dineen passed away about two months ago at the age of 63.

You may ask how or why I remember him. Probably because of that strange day when two top catchers (Munson and Dempsey) had to play LF and RF while a third catcher, Ed Herrmann, was behind the plate, and with Munson and Dempsey in the outfield, the trivia question would be “who was playing CF between Munson and Dempsey?”.

Well, Conference Championship Sunday is set. Brady/Manning again in the AFC. My Steelers put up a good fight without Williams or Brown and an injured Big Ben (and if you recall, Bell and Pouncey were lost very early on in the preseason and regular season). Brown’s absence wasn’t only felt in the receiving aspect of the game, but also in the punt return aspect also. I can’t stand the Patriots, and the thought of Denver in the Super Bowl fills me with dread. I mean, outside of the two Super Bowls Elway won at the end of his career (Thank You, Terrell Davis), the Broncos history in the big game is one of being blown out (43-8, 55-10, 42-10, 39-20….). Not looking forward to another one of those.

One heck of an ending to Arizona/Green Bay this weekend, now Arizona travels to Carolina. I’ll probably be rooting for the winner of this game to win it all. The Cardinals have only won one title—in 1947 when they beat the Eagles for the NFL title. Oh yeah, the Cardinals were the CHICAGO Cardinals at that time.

Minor moves.

I don’t report on all the minor transactions the Yanks are doing, because often I don’t have time, and lately that minor move may only last a few days. Here is an example. From the internet yesterday (CBS SPORTS):

Yankees: Claimed OF Lane Adams off waivers from the Royals, the team announced. IF Ronald Torreyes was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.

Now Terreyes was just picked up in a deal with the Dodgers just three days ago when the Yanks sent Rob Segedin to LA for Terreyes and another minor leaguer.

I didn’t even get to write about Terreyes when this happened. So I am not going to go too much into detail about Adams. He is a righty hitting OF, 26, who over the last three years in the minors has basically averaged .275-13-55 with 38 SB a year.

1961 Yankee relief ace Arroyo dead at 88.

Luis Arroyo, who won 15 games and saved 29 more for the 1961 Yankees, died yesterday at the age of 88 from cancer.

Arroyo hit the majors in 1955 with St. Louis and made the All-Star team, going 11-8, 4.19 in 35 games, 24 of them starts.

He was with the Pirates in 1956 and 1957, and after a year out of the majors, came back with the Reds in 1959.

He was with the Yanks from 1960-1963, and was an All-Star in 1961 when he finished 6th in MVP voting—not bad in the year of Maris and Mantle. He led the majors in games, games finished and saves that year, going 15-5, 2.19 with 29 saves.

For his career, he was 40-32, 3.93 with 45 saves, ERA+ 98. He was 1-0, 3.86 in three WS games in 1960 and 1961. He was a member of 2 WS champs, and 4 pennant winners, and was the first Puerto Rican to play for the Yankees.

His 29 saves stood as the single season record until tied by Dick Radatz in 1964 and broken by Ted Abernathy in 1965.

Dodger Lance Rautzhan, a pitcher in the 1970s who was born not far from me in Pottsville, PA, died last week at the age of 63. He pitched for the Dodgers 1977-1979 and for the Brewers in 1979. He went 6-4, 3.90 in 83 games, ERA+ 94. He went 1-0, 9.00 in postseason play, facing the Phils and Yanks in 1977 and 1978.

Irvin, NFL news….

Hall 0f Famer Monte Irvin passed away at the age of 96. Irvin couldn’t break into the majors until the age of 30 in 1949 but was, for a while, considered to maybe be what Jackie Robinson was—the man to break the color barrier.

Because of his late start, most of Irvin’s accomplishments came in the Negro Leagues, but in 1951, Irvin finished 3rd in the MVP balloting after a season where he hit .312-24-121 (leading the NL in RBI) and helped to lead the NY Giants to their improbable come from behind pennant.

Irvin had an excellent WS against the Yanks in the Giants’ loss to the Bronx Bombers. He went 11 for 24 (.458) with two RBI and even stole home in Game 1.

He was an All-Star for the only time in 1952 and finished 31st in MVP voting despite playing just 46 games because of a broken ankle.

He hit .329-21-97 in 1953, finishing 15th in the MVP voting and was a member of the 1954 WS Champion NY Giants, going 2 for 9 in that WS—the last WS Champion NY Giant team.

He played for the Giants from 1949-1955 and finished his career with the Cubs in 1956.  He hit .293 with an OPS+ of  125 in his shortened career.

After his career ended, Irvin worked in baseball for many years in the commissioners’ office.

Big news in the NFL. The St. Louis Rams are headed backed to LA, where they played from 1946-1994 (winning the NFL title in 1951 and losing Super Bowl XIV), and the San Diego Chargers may follow. The Chargers started out in the AFL in Los Angeles, playing there in 1960 before moving to San Diego. The 1960 Los Angeles Chargers lost the AFL title game to the Houston Oilers, 24-16.

The Rams are moving to LA next year, to play in the LA Coliseum. A new stadium is expected to be ready for 2019. I don’t know where they would play in 2017 and 2018, I’ll have to check.  The Chargers may move in 2017, if a lease agreement can be worked out with the Rams. If one can’t be worked out, then the Raiders may move from Oakland to LA, where they played from 1982-1994, winning Super Bowl XVIII.

Meanwhile, the playoffs are going on, and last week saw a couple of doozies. KC beat Houston 30-0 and Green Bay knocked out Washington 35-18 but it was the other two, the way they finished, that was shocking.

Minnesota missed a chippy 27 yd. FG at the end of the game to lose 10-9 to Seattle. The game was played in sub-zero degree weather.

Pittsburgh blew a 15-0 lead they had entering the fourth quarter, and had their QB hurt. They had to go with their 3rd and 4th string RBs in the game. With 1:50 left, Cincinnati, who had not won a playoff game since 1990, took a 16-15 lead. Pittsburgh’s backup QB threw a pick, and Cincy had the ball in Steelers’ territory, only to fumble the ball back with 1:23 left. Back onto the field came Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger, who was injured. We now know he suffered a sprained AC and torn ligaments in his throwing shoulder due to a sack and dirty play (knee to the shoulder after the sack) by a Cincy LB. He couldn’t throw long but got the ball to midfield with 22 seconds left. Then Cincy got called for back to back 15 yd. personal foul penalties, one on a dirty hit by the same LB, to move the ball forward 30 yards and Pittsburgh hit the 35 yd. FG to win the game 18-16.

The behavior of both teams in the game as well as fans was disgraceful (and I am saying that as a Steelers fan who is happy Pittsburgh won, but who is not happy with the actions of coaches Munchak and Porter, even though what Porter did may have affected the outcome of the game).

So Pittsburgh at Denver in the next round, but with a RB (Williams), QB (Big Ben) and WR (Brown) all questionable.

KC at New England. Seattle at 15-1 Carolina. Green Bay at Arizona.

Lastly a minor Yankees trade regarding minor leaguers. You can check it out here on Lohud’s link.



HOF, a minor move, free agency, and a passing.

A minor move the Yanks made before we get to more major things. They got Kirby Yates, who was DFA’d by Cleveland, for cash considerations.

In 2014, Yates’ rookie year, he went 0-2, 3.75 for Tampa Bay. Last year, he was downright awful. 1-0, 7.97 for Tampa Bay, and he gave up 10 HR in 20 1/3 IP.

For his career, 1-2, 5.27 in 57 games. An extreme fly ball pitcher, 30%+ of his balls were fly balls last year, and you can see the HR ratio. Not good. 63K in 56 1/3. A flyer. The Yanks gave up no players for him and I am sure the cash considerations are minimal. Cleveland purchased him off the Rays in November, and the Yanks purchased him off of Cleveland now.

Vern Rapp, who managed the Cardinals in 1977 and part of 1978, died on New Year’s Eve at the age of 87. He went 83-79 for the 1977 Cards, and was fired after starting 1978 6-11.

Denard Span signed with the Giants.

The HOF voting was announced on Wednesday, and Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Piazza werer elected.

Griffey broke the record for highest percentage. Only three voters (Moe, Larry and Curly? Were these the three idiots who voted for Mike Sweeney?) didn’t vote for Griffey. Why, who knows. Egotistical assholes? Perhaps. Griffey, while young and in his prime, was as close to Willie Mays as you would want. Power (630 HR), Speed (he didn’t steal often, but he had speed), Defense and throwing (10 GG), hit for average, .284. Not .300, but….               a 13x All-Star. 1997 MVP (Tino finished 2nd).    The only thing he didn’t get was a ring.

I saw one of his last HR’s at the Stadium. I think it was #601.

He was a joy to watch, but you hated it when he beat your team. Seattle, Cincy and the Chisox. OPS+ of 136.

4x HR champ. 56 in 1997 and 1998. Topped 140 RBI in three consecutive seasons, 1996-1998.

JAWS ranks him as the 5th best CF of all-time. Behind Mays, Cobb, Speaker and Mantle, and ahead of Dimaggio and Snider. Do you who rounds out the top 10? Beltran, Lofton and Andruw Jones. (Ashburn is 11th).

Piazza’s defense wasn’t that great, but a catcher with a .308 BA and 427 HR made up for it. OPS+ 142, even higher than Griffey’s, and this was a catcher. Higher OPS+ than Griffey, and higher BA.

I hope the rumors that kept him out until now are not true. Steroids. Rumors, but not confirmed. I’d hate for those rumors to be confirmed years down the road. What then, remove him?

He and Bill Dickey, another HOF catcher, hit .362 in a season.

The 1993 ROY, Piazza finished top 10 for MVP 7X, including back-to-back runnerup finishes in 1996 and 1997 with the Dodgers.

While Griffey is going in as the first Mariner in their history, Piazza is going in as the second Met (Tom Seaver).

Close but no cigar goes to Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines.

Significant improvement for Mike Mussina & Curt Schilling.

Even for Bonds and Clemens.

Next year, Jorge Posada is on the ballot. I’d expect a nice vote, maybe 25% but nowhere near the 75% to get in.

Vlad Guerrero comes on. I believe he will make it but on the first year may get only 63% or so.

Ivan Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez, while they certainly have the stats and credentials, are linked to steroids and I don’t believe they will get in. While Pudge (Rodriguez) wasn’t convicted, Manny as suspended twice.

The Yankees’ Achilles Heel in 2016 could be their offense.

Now that the Yankees have added Aroldis Chapman, and (assuming they don’t trade Andrew Miller) have a three-headed monster of an endgame with Miller, Betances and Chapman, people are instantly assuming that if the Yanks have a lead after six, game over.

Which may be correct, and I don’t want to be a cold fish here, but ….. those three pitchers won’t mean a damn thing if you are LOSING 3-0 or so after six innings.

Let’s look back at the end of the Yankees’ season in 2015. They lost six of their last seven games, including the wild card game. In that wild card game, played at home, they lost 3-0 and got just three hits in that game.

So my point is that even though people are applauding the bullpen of Miller, Betances and Chapman, and pointing out the problems of a rotation with injury issues that Tanaka, Pineda, Eovaldi, Nova, and CC provide, not to mention the inexperience of a Severino or Mitchell, the Achilles heel for 2016 for the Yanks could actually be their offense.

Let me explain.

The offense in 2015 ranked second in the league in scoring runs, but was very one-dimensional. They were fourth in HR, but even with Ellsbury and Gardner, were 13th in SB. They were second in drawing walks but only hit .251. Let’s look at the projected 2016 lineup and the possible pitfalls.

Ellsbury. Was hitting .324 on May 19 when he went on the DL. Came off the DL on July 8 and hit just .224 the rest of the season. That is NOT setting the table. He hit just .257 last year. OPS+84, 16% BELOW league average. That is NOT setting the table. He stole 21 bases. You were hoping for 50. If his 2016 doesn’t improve to .280 and 50 SB…..

Gardner. For his CAREER, is only a .232 hitter after the All-Star Break. Had his wrist hit by a pitch, had cortisone shots and, because you can get no more than 3 cortisone shots a year, fell off in the second half. Was hitting .300 as of July 21. Hit .203 the rest of the year. Wound up at .259. You can’t have your top two hitters hitting under .260. OPS+105. Better than Ellsbury, but… Only 20 SB. The Yanks need 40 out of him.

A-Rod. Turns 41 on July 27. 41. Yes, he hit 33 HR last year. He also hit .250. Plus, look at the age again. 41 on July 27. Now look below at Teix’s age and also Beltran’s.  From August 6 to the end of the year, hit just .186.

Teix. 36 on April 11. .255 last year. Season ended by the injury in mid-August.

Beltran. Turns 39 April 24th. So your middle of the lineup will be 41, 36, 39.

McCann. In his two years as a Yankee, has a .232 batting average. Hit .184 after August 4th.

Headley. Meh…

Castro. Yes, he did hit .339 last year after the switch to 2B from SS. Yes, he will be just 26 and already is a 3x All-Star. But he was hitting just .237 last year as of August 22. 

Didi. Just 25. Came on strong to end at .265, but was at just .234 on July 22.


Some guys came on at the end (Castro and Didi) while other guys faded badly.  Namely, Ellsbury, Gardner, A-Rod, and McCann.

If the lineup continues to struggle, having that end of the bullpen means nothing if you are always down 3-0 or so entering the seventh.

What is more alarming is the age in the middle of the lineup. 41. 36. 39.

I am not sold on the lineup. But with the long-term deals, age, and no-trade clauses, there isn’t much the Yanks can do.

But yes, I am worried about the lineup. The Yanks need a return to form from Ellsbury and Gardner.

But even if they return to form, can both give .280 and 40 SB each, can the aged middle of the lineup (3 guys 36+) deliver?